Need some help improving recording quality...

I've been making decent recordings of some VDL:2 compositions for a while now, but they lack the ";professional"; sound of VDL:2 demos (and some user demos). 

Referencing Jesse Mattson's tutorial on making good quality recordings:  (Part 2: Improving the mix)

To those of you in the ";know"; - (Concerning battery instruments):

Do you have some good stereo pan/volume settings that have produced better than normal recordings?  Do you use reverb?...If so, how much per instrument?  (ballpark #'s)?

I'll leave it at that since those settings are universal (since they are edited directly on the VDL:2 user interface).  Just trying to add some depth to my knowledge (and recordings!) - thanks for your input.

- OT
Owen, I'm sure there will be some opinions to follow, but I wanted to start with some fundamentals.

First, depending if you have the Player, or if you're using Kontakt proper, there are either few or tons of settings.  If you have the player, you're sorta stuck.  If you have Kontakt, you can tweak to no end.  Hopefully you have Kontakt.

Second, there's no right answer.  Go with your ears.  Maybe play with some EQ.  I can tell you that I've done a bit of trickeration, and it can be cool.

#1 rule - back up your instruments and such.

You can tweak instruments heavily in Kontakt.  Some of the fun stuff is stereo / 5.1 stuff.  I'll assume you're not into 5.1, but if you are, Kontakt can do some cool things.  Even in just stereo, you can use the stereo expander in some weird ways.  I actually sometimes use it as a negative value, contracting the stereo ";width";.  This allows me to pan the instruments more towards a specific direction.  I like doing that with the bass instrument because it's actually ";centered"; with the top-to-bottom going across from L to R.  I like to contract them and put them on the right side, with the top bass being about center, and 5 as much on the right as possible.  (I'm one of those guys that inverts my lines so I can see left hands for basses.  Also I'll move the tenors to the right.  Snares, depending on whether you want a wide or narrow sound out of the center can be widened or narrowed.

I've also been putting extra kick on the bass instrument, and playing with the snare sounds at times to make it more wet.  I pretty much just close my eyes, imagine standing in front of my line, and then try to make it sound like that (minus the ticks).

Finally, notice your environment.  Some reverb on the whole thing, or some chorus, etc., can help the realism.  I guess it depends on what you're after.
I do have Kontakt 2!  -  You caught me updating my signature... :-)

Great comments by the way!

- OT
I don't have a default set of pan settings, but do sometimes pan the battery sections with a bit more separation to give a little more space and clarity. If you're used to hearing your tenors coming from the left of the line, pan them left say maybe 25%. Basses to the right 25% leaving snares centered. If you want more separation, fiddle with the pan settings until it sounds to your liking.

Reverb - Altiverb (by Audioease) rocks and is my go-to plug for convolution reverb. I like to set up reverb on a Bus track, then route sn/ten/bd/etc channels through that Bus so you can have some control over how much each channel outputs to the reverb bus. Maybe not as applicable for marching stuff, but a general rule with reverb is that the ";farther"; away you want something to sound, the more signal you'd send to reverb. Closer instruments would have a little less. These settings are probably like using EQ where a little bit goes a long way, so don't be too ambitious. Using too much reverb can obviously make things sound pretty washy and synthetic.

It's probably a good idea not to apply reverb as an individual insert on each track or you'll run the risk of taxing CPU too much, plus reverb settings/quality may not be consistent from track to track.
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